Wednesday, June 22, 2022

             In Leviticus 16, we read God’s instructions to Moses concerning atonement for the sins of the people of Israel.  In these instructions, we find reference to “the scapegoat.”  This expression has found its way into modern parlance and conversation.  We often refer to the act of assigning blame to someone or something as “scapegoating.”  We may make someone out to be the scapegoat for our mistakes or something that has not worked as planned.  Usually, we misrepresent and misuse the idea of a scapegoat when it takes place in modern conversations and exchanges.  But there was a real purpose and a real message behind the biblical concept of the scapegoat.
            We read in Leviticus, “When Aaron has finished making atonement for the Most Holy Place, the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall bring forward the live goat. He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites—all their sins—and put them on the goat’s head. He shall send the goat away into the wilderness in the care of someone appointed for the task. The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a remote place; and the man shall release it in the wilderness” (Leviticus 16:20-22).  The scapegoat symbolized that through the act of atonement all of Israel's sins could be forgiven, never to return.  The sins were sent away from the people and the nation, having been placed or laid symbolically on the goat. 
            The scapegoat was the “sin-bearer” for ancient Israel.  In this image of the scapegoat, we have a glimpse or symbol of the role that Jesus would fulfill at the cross in dying for the sins of the world and making atonement for our sins before the Father.  Isaiah 53:6 says, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”  Our sins were placed on Jesus and His righteousness was given to us.  Romans 5:8 says, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  Jesus did for us what we could never do for ourselves—remove sin and satisfy our debts before the Father.  Psalm 103:12 teaches us, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”  Sins that we confess, acknowledge and repent of are placed at the cross where the death and blood of Jesus cover them and we are justified or declared not guilty.
            Hebrews 9:28 says, “So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”  And in I Peter 2:24 we read, “’He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed.’”  Consistently through Scripture we discover that Jesus is the final and ultimate sin-bearer.  He removes our sins by His death for them.  He makes us free, at peace and restored with the Father through His passion at the cross.  Give thanks today that your sins can be forgiven and you can be made whole once again.  The sins that once divided us from the Father have been covered and paid for by the only sinless One ever to live.  Have a wonderful Wednesday!

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